What does it mean when someone says ‘Merry Christmas’? Where does this phrase come from?
‘Merry Christmas’ is an expression of sentiment offering well wishes for the holiday season.
It means that you hope someone has a happy holiday or enjoys their Christmas vacation. It might mean that you hope someone gets the gifts they wanted and gets to enjoy the holiday with their family.
‘Merry Christmas’ is an expression of sentiment people use to wish someone a happy holiday or a joyous holiday season.
Essentially, it’s what people who celebrate Christmas say to each other during that time of year, December.
This expression is tied to the Christmas holiday, which most Christians use to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ (the son of God in some Christianity).
Some churches celebrate with Christmas programs and events that celebrate the birth of Christ.
However, the celebration of Christmas didn’t start in Rome until about 336. And it didn’t become a major Christian festival until about the ninth century.
The origins of Christmas stem from both the pagan and Roman cultures.
The phrase ‘Merry Christmas’ comes from a 16th-century letter written by a bishop to England’s Chief Minister.
In the letter, the bishop asked God to bless the politician with a “Merry Christmas.”
The song “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” is also from the same time period.
However, it wasn’t until Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol that the phrase became more widely known. It was published in 1543, and at one point in the book, Scrooge’s nephew exclaims, “A Merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!”
This was around the same time that Christmas cards emerged with the phrase “Merry Christmas” on them.
The English carol, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” was also introduced in the 1500s.
Even though we say Merry Christmas in the United States, in other places around the world, people might say ‘Happy Christmas,’ such as in England, where ‘merry’ was associated with the rowdy lower class.
How would you use ‘Merry Christmas’ in a sentence? Let’s look at some examples:
You might reply with a simple, "Merry Christmas to you, too!" or "Thanks, you too!" Or you could also say, "Happy holidays."
Are you ready to learn more English phrases? Don’t forget to check out our Idioms blog!